Sunday, March 31, 2013

Going Green for Health, Wealth and Joy


backyard trees

This blog and others by this author have repeatedly stressed the importance of living in green spaces and of increasing green spaces on our planet by endeavors such as planting trees and designing cities to include designer green areas http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2012/06/green-hybrid-city.html. Some of the advantages mentioned were felt intuitively but were not backed by scientific evidence. All this changed this month when the results of a new study due to the University of Edinburgh were published in the journal of Sports Medicine. What the researchers found was that green spaces lessen brain fatigue with all its attendant benefits. These benefits include reduced stress and improved mental and physical health.

In another blog of this author (steamcenter.blogspot.com) dealing with technological matters in layman style, this blogger has stressed the contribution of increasing greenery for improving the climate on the planet and in the present blog the author has talked much of the spiritual and economic benefits of increasing forest and other green cover on the planet as a whole and at the micro level in and around one’s home and office. Green surroundings are the solace of a weary soul.

The study suggests that right now one should take a break from whatever one is doing and move to a green space or even view green spaces from one's home and office windows. If such are not available to you then begin creating one right now by planting  trees by yourself or in a group, or, if you live in a place where that is not quite possible, begin planning getting out of it as soon as possible to another where it is possible; either that or start saving for a doc or shrink and some more handkerchiefs for a tearful sobbing life of pain and sorrow. If you choose a fruit/food tree plant then you would contribute towards the dwindling food resources on the planet too..

This blogger does not wish to insist that anyone should necessarily increase peace, joy and happiness in their lives if they do not wish to. Adults are free to live as they wish to as long as they do not disturb others, but he does urge them strongly to avoid  poor  mental and physical health as well as sorrow and tears because that is something that costs the society as a whole, and this post mentions the easiest and perhaps the only way to get there. If one thinks one can find joy by living in barren deserts or others filled by city noises, concrete and artificial lighting then that is wishful thinking indeed 

Prefer the song of birds and of gurgling brooks to the usual noise of the city. The former has shaped human psyche for thousands of years while the latter may ruin it in a few.

If governments and policy making bodies think that climatic natural disasters or unemployment rates can be reduced by reducing the forest cover and other green spaces on our planet then a major rethink is in order.   Older posts in this blog have shown how millions of green jobs may be created within a few years in any country.

The photo shows the trees in the backyard of the author's home, visible from the back windows. The front is greener. There are photos of that in older posts of this blog if you care to scroll through. All of the trees were planted by the author. When he moved into the area some quarter century ago it was barren. Besides his home, he has planted trees on the street and parks of the residential area he lives in as well as the offices he has worked in too. This link and reference here is to a blog post from one of the offices this author has worked in  http://aits-nainital.blogspot.in/2010/05/tree-plantation-marks-observance-of_06.html

I guess one should practice what one preaches :)

It is Pee in U K food now


 food seasonings fresh from the tap

When a situation becomes ridiculous, it is difficult to maintain a stiff upper lip and it is time to choose between crying and laughing. After Poo was found in cakes (read older posts in this blog for that) from Europe it seems it is  Pee now in U K. and that too in a respectable advocates' lounge at Snaresbrook Crown Court, in north-east London. If that is possible in a respectable lounge under full legal glare can you blame the stores for passing horse meat as beef and late night take-aways from UK of helping rid the kingdom of stray cats and dogs while making a quick buck on the side? It seems that the heady brew from one or more clickers set below the belt was found as the seasoning for soups, salads and sandwiches.

What is the world coming too?

LOL ! 

Read this report for example
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jan/20/snaresbrook-court-police-urine-food

To quote from this report ,

The council said: "Following an inquiry from a member of staff at the court, one of our food safety officers visited the court on Wednesday to give advice on a possible contamination of food issue. A joint investigation has begun which is being led by the police. We are unable to comment further until the police investigation is complete."
The suggestion of this blogger is that the court must trace the culprit and accord punishment. DNA or other chemical markers are found in human urine and samples could be collected from all at the premises, including the honorable dignitaries since the respectable law treats all equally, to identify the culprit. The samples may be collected under strict watch to prevent substitution.

Snaresbrook is  a Victorian Gothic Place. The dear old queen who built an empire that stretched from one end of the world to the other will turn in her grave when she hears of this. She preferred whiskey in her tea instead.  To this sweet empress of our lands, I even devoted a near full chapter in my novel - Nude Besides the Lake (http://www.amazon.com/Nude-besides-Lake-A-Novel/dp/1463529392)  The word is besides in the title not beside.

I think most of the esteemed visitors to the lounge would have found the taste a bit off, but seeing that one former Prime Minister over in India liked the stuff, one would not be surprised if some remarked,

"I  kind of like the new flavor Mate!" 

I choose to laugh rather than cry. 
:)

LOL

UPDATE April 2015, :  The new cocktail drink called 'Pee Johnny' does not contain that stuff as the name suggests but simply makes one produce a lot of it in a pressing hurry. Perhaps the cooks had been drinking some of that :)  It is described here: 



Saturday, March 30, 2013

Magic all around us


 

An old grape vine sending support to a new young one
Humans are fascinated by magic tricks. I too enjoy them for fun but when a trickster puts on a holy garb and pulls out a few gold coins from thin air, a trick that most any street magician can do he is sure to create a few new religious disciples. Later after many years when they discover that they had become religious disciples of a fraudster they feel very angry. But do they have anyone but themselves to blame? They were so gullible as to be fooled by a few silly magic tricks while a great magic plays around us all the time that we fail to notice.

Can there be any greater magic than the sunrise and sunset that takes place every day or the movement of the stars or the very processes that create and sustain life every moment of our lives. What greater magic could the Almighty have created? Nevertheless, failing to notice that, we are ready to be taken for a ride when a rabbit is pulled out of a hat.

There is magic all around us if we just open our eyes. In a corner of my garden there is an old grape vine that I planted some twenty years ago. Grape vines are wonderful around homes because they shed leaves in winter to warm a house and shade it in summer to keep it cool in perfect timing with the seasons. Their young new leaves make lovely Greek dolmas and the grapes are a delight especially for children and birds; and grown ups too if they know how to change it into wine. Last year I noticed that the old vine is less vigorous then it used to be,  perhaps because of age, and planted a new sapling next to it. The idea was that it could climb up the old trunk and no one would notice the difference. The new sapling was some distance away and it was in my mind to tie a string on it after it grows up a bit to guide it towards the old vine trunk. Today morning as I went to put seed out for the birds in another corner of the garden, I noticed that a piece of bark has stripped away from the old trunk and fallen towards the new young vine, all by itself with no intervention by me or any other human, just at the right place, so that a string will now not be necessary. It is shown in the photograph. It is a sleight of hand by the oldest Magician of the universe, the Almighty who is throwing star dust all around us at all times to sustain life every moment of our lives, but only if we care to notice. Vincent, a fellow blogger calls it a numinous presence rather than a luminous one, quite rightly so because as He creates light, He also creates dark so that the darkness may be separated from light.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Beauty and Evolution


 
The first edition, 1992, of Mystic and the Blossoms
If one went about trying to define beauty, it would be very difficult to do so with precision. It is something like love that can be felt but not described. We know that birds and a variety of animals express tender love. It is heart breaking to see birds scream when their young ones are in danger, but it seems that they may be oblivious to beauty. Appreciation of  beauty is something that appears to need  evolution into a human or a godly being. Therefore an appreciation of beauty may be a mark of evolution. It is difficult to imagine gorillas and donkeys appreciating the beauty of a flower or a butterfly.  It is tragic to see that there are humans too on the planet that are quite oblivious of beauty.

As a professor of engineering and a faculty member in three leading universities of our planet, my profession was to make scientific contributions and educate students of engineering. Some remarked that I was making a valuable contribution to society because technology improves the quality of life. Personally though, I was not fully satisfied. Technology can improve human lives but it is not sufficient in itself to do so. It has to be combined with an evolution of human character. This point could not be explained easily with a scientific paper; nevertheless I wished to get the point across. Therefore, I made up and wrote a fictional story of a backward village that developed into a beautiful and prosperous place as a result of the combined influence of technology and character evolution. The appreciation of beauty was one of the points included in the story. The story was longer than a short story but briefer than a novel. However, when it came to publishing it, there was neither the time nor the patience to go through the  routine that a new novelist goes through. I was much too involved with my profession and this was just a side hobby. A friend, a Professor of English at the Indian Institute of technology – Suresh Upadhyay – suggested what the title should be - The Mystic and the Blossoms - Nevertheless, I managed to publish it locally here as a small hardcover. It was a single run of 500 copies therefore it did not get around much. Over the last decade though, with the spread of the internet newer editions have been published, after knocking out the ‘the’ from the beginning of the title and now it is available worldwide e.g. here (http://www.amazon.com/Mystic-And-Blossoms-Ashok-Malhotra/dp/1411648579). Today while looking through my library I found an old fading copy of the original hardcover edition and photographed it next to a statue of Buddha that a friend Keiko Amano had once suggested I snap and share. That is the photo that accompanies this post.


UPDATE: May 15, 2014: The Kindle version of this book is currently available as a free download over the next five days. Do download it. you will enjoy the story.  http://www.amazon.com/Mystic-Blossoms-Ashok-Malhotra-ebook/dp/B005GT391M/



Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Clever and the Simple


Simplicity
 "Honesty is expensive. Do not expect cheap people to possess it" Warren Buffet



Is it better to be clever or simple in life? What do sacred books have to say on the matter?

In life one comes across two kinds of persons. There are some who are extremely simple, direct and straightforward in whatever it is that they have to do or say. Then there are others who are clever, who rather than going about the business of life in a straightforward manner try and discover that extra trick that might make one more successful; rather then come to the point directly they would rather beat around the bush as they weigh the consequences of various options, the various strategies as in a game of chess.

When I was in school, my friends regarded me as a simple person. It was the clever street smart ones who were popular and most admired. Therefore it was natural for us simple ones to try and cultivate cleverness. However, as one matures one wonders about one’s approach to life and I soon arrived at the conclusion that increasing happiness is my priority and being simple tends to enhance it rather than being clever. A clever person is so involved in games of  mind that they forget to notice  flowers, song of the birds and beauty of the sunrise and sunset, so that happiness that is simply and effortlessly available to all is denied to them.

There is an old saying in Punjab " Sayana kaowa gun te ja dig marda je" which translates as " The clever crow falls and dies in a heap of dung", and another much cruder one from my great grandmother couched in humor that I had quoted in the original version of this post but have now deleted. My great grandmother passed away much before my time, but this profound wisdom was passed on to her younger daughter who gave it to my aunt, a Professor of Political science, who made it known to us.

Lest anyone read the the last bit of wisdom in an earlier version of this post and deduces that my Great grand Ma (may her soul rest in peace) was a crude rustic because of the amazing crudity of her profoundness, may I clarify that she was the wife of the Commissioner of the Quetta-Pishin districts in British India and her best friend was Laura Lushington, from the British Peerage, the wife of the Commissioner of Kumaon and one of Dame Laura's son was the commissioner of Baluchistan.

A wise person in Iraq,during my worldwide travels in  younger days, explained it through a scientific analogy. He explained that the shortest and quickest way to go from point A to point B is through the straight line, the straight path, anything else is at best an approximation.

I have tried to understand life both by observation and study. The study has included scriptures of ancient religions of the East and West. Although, I do not subscribe to interpretations of many of the so called defenders of these religions and their latter day interpretations, I do value the words of scriptures that appeal to me. Thus in the Bible, Nicodemus enquiring from Jesus about how a man enters a womb again or is born again, I simply take it as a question about reincarnation rather than a complex hypothesis of a preacher who explained how a brief ritual shall make one a born again Christian, fit to enter heaven.

My simple explanation would not fit in with Christian interpretations that have denied reincarnation, well at least more than a single reincarnation, because even they have to count on that one reincarnation into hell for all those who shall not drop a penny in their hat. A repeated reincarnation and a limited hellish birth for fifty or even a hundred years is not scary enough to scare the shits out of the pants of a prospective catch. One needs eternal hell fire for having viewed that lovely blonde with a lustful eye and not joining them.  It is a different matter that they got into difficulty when asked how the cow and the cat would be born again to go to hell or heaven. However, it seems an explanation was found not in agreement with other religious philosophies. It was declared that animals do not have a soul and therefore there was no question of their going to hell or heaven in any case.

Coming back to my study of scriptures and my appreciation for what has appealed to me in them; in the Holy Bible the portions that appealed to me most were the books entitled the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and the first book of the New Testament; that and the story of Ruth. Therefore here let me quote from the Proverbs for my initial appreciation of simplicity rather than cleverness in life:

“My son walk not thou in the way with them, refrain thy foot from their path;
“For their feet run to evil and make haste to shed blood;
“Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of the bird;
“And they lay wait for their own blood, lurk privily for their own lives
 Chapter 1, Verses 15-18, Proverbs

These verses carry the message that not only is it good to be simple it is also good to shun the company of the clever and the devious to the extent possible. However my experience in the modern world is that one keeps running into the too clever by halves all the time and then the question arises as to how to deal with them; before one can get around to shunning them. One way is to fight them with one’s own clever strategy, like the opponent on a chess board and come up with one’s own brilliant Sicilian defense. Once again as a result of my experience and study I have found this last approach to be a poor one. It is like a fist fight where one does not know who will receive the fatal blow, or like the game of chess where one is not assured whose erect king will fall first. The best way is to stick to one’s straightforward and simple approach and one will be pleasantly surprised to find that in the end, it is the one's with the net who have got trapped in their own net. Complex strategies built up on lies over long periods of time will collapse simply like a hot air baloon that goes fussssssssss when it is punctured by a tiny needle, because as the book say,

"A lie is for a moment, a truth is forever"

Scanning further along in the Book of Proverbs one shall also find words to the effect;

“More bitter than death is a woman whose hands are like bands and whose heart is all snares and nets”

If one has ended up with a wife like that it may be wise to reeducate her by referring her to this article but if the habit is too deep seated then the same book of proverbs suggests another remedy,

“Better it is to live on the corner of the roof than with a brawling woman in a spacious house”

In time though, it is my experience that the angels of the Lord shall pick up the simple and lead them into a spacious house filled with beauty and sunshine, while the greedy and devious would be led into a dark, dank rat hole, for the Angles love the simple and detest the devious.

Brawling or false sweetness are part of the arsenal of the clever. However, this saying does not apply just to women ( lest they run with a hatchet after me), there are simple and clever men just as there are simple and clever women. In my own family my mother was a simple, loving and straightforward person and it was my father who was up to weaving snares and nets frequently. It goes without saying that my mother was happy and peaceful most of her life while my father sulked through it. The few difficulties that she did have for a part of her life were because of the companion whom fate had willed for her. Company has its influence without doubt, but as she said privately to us on more than one occasion, she stuck by him because of her four children, so that she could secure a home for them until they were capable on their own. He had a senior position in the Indian Army (that he retained with her help) and good homes to live in because of that. A public photo of her,  Nand Rani Malhotra, can be found on the web at this link

Note: A comment by a friend Robin Elizabeth who runs a network of spiritual writers on linkedin.com  has made the author realize that there could be some confusion because of the choice of words in this post. As soon as better words are found the post shall be amended accordingly; simple may be interpreted as lack of wisdom. It has two meanings, the first is plain, basic and devoid of complexity. The other meaning is lacking in wisdom and foolish. it is the former usage of simple in this article. I am a great supporter of wisdom myself and because of it a great fan of the Book of Proverbs Perhaps another participant can suggest a better choice of words. the reference to simple was to the straightforward and honest, and clever to those who tend to be devious, false or pretentious. perhaps the text in the red and green image with the post clarifies it better.Perhaps a fellow blogger can suggest the right words. We have been missing a friend and fellow blogger, Vincent in this blog who has a great command of the English language and at one time pointed out essential corrections.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Free Kitchens when one is Poor in a World for the One Per Cent



A Glass of Milk for the Sweet Child
While I made some critical remarks about some religious organizations in the previous post, it must also be reported that some of these organizations do a lot of good work too. BBC news showed what an excellent job of running free kitchens the Catholic Church in France is doing besides the church has also done a great job of providing excellent education through the schools it runs and I myself have studied in one for a few years as a child.

On the other hands there are also sordid scandals that plague some religious organizations. As a comment to my previous post, Vincent a friend and fellow blogger pointed out that it is not always easy for people to walk out of a religion they may have been born too as it from a business organization that provides some service. Therefore a need exists for reform. Perhaps the scandals in some of these churches would reduce if priests were allowed to marry. It is fine to say that for attaining a high order of spirituality one should be celibate but then how many humans can give up their fascination with lusting. If compelled to do so externally, they shall continue to do so in their mind and hearts and perhaps be led to a situation in which they develop a fascination with the choir boys. In reforming its policies, the Church must look at its own holy book wherein the Savior says that to lust in thought is to commit adultery and if the Church cannot prevent this sort of adultery, which it clearly cannot, then they should permit its priestly orders to marry.

Returning to the topic at hand, I was initially going to title this post as free kitchens for the poor but then changed it to “when poor’ because poverty is not a permanent state. It can change from time to time and a rich man may become poor one day just as a poor become rich and I myself have faced times in this life, albeit brief, when I was hard up to arrange the daily bread. My mind went to the present topic on reading a news report today that a person named Om Birla has been running a free kitchen for the poor feeding around a thousand persons a day by providing two meals a day in a city called Kota not too far away from here.

Although, such things need not be broadcast, they have to be described for their educational values at times. I recall one occasion when we contributed towards feeding poor for a day at the famous Sufi Shrine of Nizammudin in Delhi many years ago. The holy Imam (priest) said that the experience would be more rewarding if we came at an appointed hour and served food with our own hands. When we arrived in the afternoon for the job, the food was ready and poor fakirs were dutifully sitting in a line waiting to be served. There was a basket of hot fresh crispy Nans (flat bread) and a large pot of mutton curry. The food looked so delicious that my mouth watered as we served the fakirs but we did not eat out of shyness. Those were days when I ate and relished red meat dishes. I am reminded of another fellow blogger, Keiko Amano, who said that if she came to India she would love a meal of chicken curry and Nan. Truly, Nan and curry when fresh is one of the more delicious meals available on the planet. Nowadays when I venture out for a similar exercise in Jaipur, I first eat a meal of the same stuff myself first. There are a few Muslim restaurants in Jaipur (to the right just as you enter Ajmeri gate in the city) that serve excellent Nan and curry and are places where the poor line up outside every evening. A visitor to the restaurant may volunteer to feed a certain number and serve the poor right then with hot fresh Nans coming off the oven. It is a win-win situation for all. The poor get fed, the restaurant does more business and the donor gets the satisfaction of having helped out a few fellow humans in need.

One of the criticisms some reviewers had of my recent novel - (http://www.amazon.com/Nude-besides-Lake-Ashok-Malhotra/dp/1463529392)- is that although they enjoyed the story, it was fairy tale like with goody-goody persons engaged in service. One of the primary goody-goody services in the story was people feeding the poor and setting up a free kitchen to do so, on a regular basis. I would hate to disappoint such reviewers by telling them that all the royalty plus much more from this book along with generous matching grants has gone towards the same end. However, there were also readers who were inspired to run off on their own good deed errands. One was a Sikh friend who helped out with the community kitchen.I along with some friends try and encourage others to do the same on their own through a Facebook page at https://facebook.com/OHMM11

Sikh temples traditionally run free kitchen not just for the poor but anyone who visits. However, all religious organizations that are not greedy to pocket all donations and even non-religious ones such as corporations can do that. A new law is being made in India obliging private corporations to spend at least two percent of their profits on philanthropy. Setting up a free kitchen in a country where poverty and malnutrition is still common is worth considering for this budget. If you are abroad and have heard of great economic growth in India and China and think such persons do not exist anymore here than think again. The present models of economy around the world, that Aaron Heslehurst does a great job of reporting on the BBC, controlled by the one per cent, be it England, USA, India or China are designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer designed with the help of legislators funded by the one per cent, aside from a few countries with a different system such as Sweden.

When humans created modern democracies the idea was that people would be able to run policies of their choice. A fact that was grossly overlooked was that money would be needed for elections and persons who provide that would have a say in policies out of proportion to their numbers - welcome to the world of one percent.

But then consider yourself lucky even if you are a part of the one per cent world because on our planet there are countries where not the one per cent but the one person world exists (as did in Libya until recently and as does in Syria even now). We are evolving for sure but there is a long way ahead..

Ancient Greeks who invented democracy in Athens were smarter, they spent no more than a few pennies on their election system - for an Urn in which names of persons were thrown in and some pulled out by random choice, to rule; the result - A beautiful and prosperous ancient city of Athens that modern humans still marvel at and a civilization that showed the way to the rest of the world. The city began to be ruined only when corruption began to seep in.

A random picking will not lead to selection of the most charismatic and cleverest persons but just average ones. The conclusion is that unbiased and honest leaders produce a far better civilization than smart and clever leaders Why is that? The answer is that there are enough institutions to design policy and systems in any country, all that is required is their appropriate functioning.
                                              

Friday, March 8, 2013

Vincent and the Numinous Presence – The Voice of Reason



Corporate Compensations
It appears that worried heads are deliberating in the Vatican who the new Pope should be. A source of worry may be the falling membership of the church or perhaps how to deal with troubling scandals. Similar worries confront many other religious groups and organizations in the modern world. Some of the Hindu temples use a simple but apparently effective technique, they tell the innocents that they will get their heart's desire visiting and giving a gift to the deity in the temple. Apparently the deity does not collect the wealth but the priests do. Some have amassed a huge amount of wealth as result of it.

Since ancient times, there have been sincere spiritualists who have tried to discover the hidden meanings of life and the universe. Large and small organizations including the great religions of the world have come up around the teachings of these seers. However, some of those who run these organizations are not all latter day saints. In fact some may be positively evil and only use the religious garb as a shield for their nefarious activities, while distorting the teachings of the original sages to suit their present interests.

There are some that are not too evil but are in it for a decent living like a business organization that runs for its sheer undiluted greed and profits. However, while the latter, if admits its greed, is not doing anything illegal. It incurs the consequences of greed and not of hypocrisy as well. It is a different thing that they can sponsor a political party with their money power and get laws made to suit their objectives, like the republicans may perhaps be attempting in the USA by keeping assault weapons in the hands of mad men and real life video game shooters while using their interpretation of the constitutional book as a shield so that the associated industry can thrive, just as the church uses its interpretations of the holy book as one.

Recently, when the Chairman of a Swiss drug company was walking away with seventy or eighty million dollars of the company’s money as his severance package, because it was legal to do so, the Swiss woke up. They got together and put a stop to golden handshakes and good byes for corporate honchos and also introduced a new law that says that corporate salaries must be approved by the shareholders i.e. people who own the company. Some business organizations and perhaps also the government is crying foul but then the Swiss democracy is more democratic than many others and the people will have their way.

While one may deal with a business organization operating legally but unethically by changing the law how does one deal with an organization that promises eternal damnation unless you join them, or promises heaven as reward for one already damned or oppressed for blowing himself up and a few other bystanders besides?

The answer is by walking away from such organizations. The modern human is less likely to be fooled by crappy propaganda and theories as the ancient human. Moreover, wealth and power in the modern world is not controlled by a monarchy and nobility. In the past the religious honchos and the feudal power center could get together to perpetuate their grip on the people. In the modern world wealth is primarily in the hands of corporate honchos and power in the hands of elected representative, the one percent or more precisely the one percent of one percent, and it is they who can get together and sponsor political candidates to perpetuate their control and safeguard their wealth. However, if the power passes to the shareholders as the Swiss have begun to do, this will throw a spanner in the works. No wonder the business and government top shots are crying foul.

It was mentioned in the last paragraph that the way humans can deal with evil organizations using religion as a cover is to walk away from it. Their tool is faith and when one rejects that faith the grip is lost. However, the problem may not end here. Some may loose faith in a particular religious organization but do not lose faith in God. They may then look for another religious organization to join but in doing so they may jump from the frying pan into the fire. Some such thing perhaps happened to a fellow blogger –Vincent- He left the Church to join an Eastern cult. Then some distressing decades later had the good sense to walk out of it to joy and freedom. However, it seems that some of his spiritual understanding continued. It seems that he finally found his religious Guru and a sense of unity in a numinous presence under a tree while wandering in the lovely English countryside. One must not lose faith in life, God and the Universe while losing faith in a human organizations that claim a monopoly on God and His word. God belongs to you just as much or more as it does to them, just as the shareholder's money in a company belongs to the shareholders as much as the board members.

There are spiritual truths that help to make life joyous and worthwhile. While rejecting a religious organization one must take care that one does not throw the baby out with the bath water. In a separate spiritual discussion on linkedin.com a fellow member was ridiculing the words of some ancient seers as regards Heaven and Hell. I responded by urging caution and directed him to an earlier post in this blog on the topic that may have a more reasoned view. Do check it out here,

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Forget Horse Meat, It is Poop that may be in your cake now



When reports came out that huge numbers of samples of beef products in Europe were found with horse meat the concern of this blogger was less with horse meat than with the fact of fraudulent labeling. If a company is willing to fool with adulteration who knows what else they may be mixing in to the meat?

As a consequence, this blogger suggested in a previous post that samples must be tested not just for horse meat as was being ordered by regulators but with all kinds of other meats such as dog etc. Tests for just horse meat will not reveal rats for example.  I do not know if any one that matters read and followed up on my suggestion but it seems that the Chinese went ahead and tested for poop products. Guess what the chocolate cakes were being flavored with besides almonds? Read this post;


To quote briefly from it,

“Chinese officials destroyed 1,800 pounds of -- almond cakes, when tests demonstrated the product had “excessive levels” of coli form bacteria. What is coliform bacteria, you ask? What a wonderful question! It is something often found in the feces of a mammal. In this case, probably a mouse. Better than a human, not better than a cake with no shit in it. The offending shit cakes, which originated in Sweden, had found their way to 23 countries around the world—“

Thank God; that the extra cheese is in several countries not just China or someone may have a speculated if it is a secret economic war by Europe on China for confining all the workers to the bogs instead of manufacturing !/!! :) The interested reader will find several other posts on this topic searching the net. I do not know whether to laugh or cry about this but I know for sure that it is better to make one’s food at home starting from basic ingredients that one can see, unless you fancy the additional exotic flavors.

 :) LOL

Note: I regret now that I gave chocolate cakes and almonds from Bashir such an important and mouth watering role in my novel http://www.amazon.com/Nude-besides-Lake-Ashok-Malhotra/dp/1463529392   watering indeed but not from the mouth!

UPDATE APRIL 2, 2013: For a while I had a messy photo (of poop) here, added to the blog for its shock value but that sort  of thing is not appropriate on a long term basis so it was changed today for a digital work of art depicting a tsunami. The pollution of our food  indeed appears to be taking that sort of proportions, and it seems it is time for the discerning amongst us to return to good old home food.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Feeding the Birds



A Red- tailed Bulbul feeding in the garden
Putting out some bird food for the birds in one’s garden or terrace is a wonderful way to give something back to nature and also to fill the surroundings with the sweet song of birds all day. Occasionally they do make a racket but then which sweet creature including little children do not.

Premixed bird seed is not available in the Indian market to my knowledge but a variety of other foods that humans too use are available and one can prepare one’s own mix easily. millets are the most popular grain people use here to feed birds and there is also a special grass seed just for the birds called kangani that is much tinier than millets and a favorite of bird lovers. My own practice is to prepare a five kg mix of millets, kangani, white and black sesame seeds, yellow and brown mustard, crushed peanuts, crushed wheat and some washed split lentils. I have added sun flower seeds to the mix too but usually avoid it because it is expensive here. This is in line with my belief that good food either for the birds or humans does not have to be expensive. The five kilogram mix lasts for over two months.  To this is added leftovers like steamed rice that the sparrows just love. Occasionally there are bread crumbs too although we tend to save those for our own use since they are required in a number of recipes. I do not feed the birds daily but keep missing days so that the birds do not become dependent and also hunt for other foods such as insects, fruits and stuff so that their health is not compromised by human feeding.

A red tailed Bulbul has become quite a friend and it waits for me most mornings on a tree branch. She is the first to jump on the seeds. She is followed later by a variety of other birds including large flocks of sparrows. Today I took my camera along to the corner of the garden where the bird feeding tray is suspended and snapped a photo of the Bulbul for this note.